Educating (Not Amusing) A Sensitive Reader
G. Ande is uncivilized because he stole information that was not freely given to him by me. He might have understood my articles the wrong way (none of my business) but when he went public with his erroneous, vulgar and divisive interpretation (my business) I have no choice but to reply. I would not let one fall even if it is on his own volition especially if I believe he is on the wrong track.
According to English Thesaurus “hardy” is described as resilient, enduring, tough, strong, robust or lasting. I chose “Hardy” because I found this particular word lass precise to my arguments. According to the essence of my writing, I described Eritrean highlanders as hardy people. In other words, resilient, tough, strong and robust.
He might have preferred I used the other words instead and left “hardy” behind. Tough luck! I wrote it and I have the right to choose what words or terms I use in my writing. In the same token you have no right to steal (misinterpret) information that was not freely given by me to you or anyone else (a reader).
Why am I repeating the word civilized? Because what distinguishes civilized societies or individuals from others is that they do not steal information that is not FREELY given to them. So, if Ali Salim did not declare himself to be an extremist who has the right (unless uncivilized) to tag Ali Salim extremist?
So when G. Ande interpreted “Hardy” as “tattering in poverty”, isn’t he stealing (distorting) information that I did not give freely? If that was what I wanted to write nothing would have tied my hand from writing it. When I write I do not let myself be held back by political correctness, after all, I am an admirer of Ali Salim’s directness and openness.
G. Ande also claimed that I described the Highlanders as miserable people who feed on chickpeas and that meeting these people is like meeting “stones” and boulders. The later is a metaphor so I will not dwell on it. But on the former what I wrote was that the highlanders followed in the footsteps of their chickpeas and barley and survived.
Does G Ande know that the very Kebesa barley is stored in Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the island of Spitsbergen, Norway, because of its unique genetic history (no mutation, thus no relation with other barleys) and because of it’s hardy (or to satisfy G Ande- resilient) nature?
To be selected for storage in seed vault, the Kebesa barley must be unique, special and important. So when I compare my Kebesa people with barley (they call it Ngus Ikhli) isn’t my writing complimentary to Deki Kebesa rather than derogatory as per G. Ande’s interpretation?
G. Ande also tried very hard to alienate me from my origin in three ways. First he equated my articles with that of James Bruce’s depiction of Africans. Then he related me with the Amharas because of my name and finally he decorated me with a title Lij, (I would have preferred Bashay). Again, a misrepresentation of gargantuan dimension.
I forgive G Ande because I believe he does not know Kebesa closely or in depth, for he disclosed that he was one of “those of us who have lived in Ethiopia.” So I will take his diatribe as infantile tantrum (hinqaqe/nafiqot) rather than a serious literary or scientific argument.
G. Ande also was mistaken in his corroborative arguments and I want to educate (I am poor at entertaining) him on the points that he brought to lengthen his article.
1. He blamed the Italians for the deforestation of the Eritrean highland. But the Italians did not cut trees to the extent of deforesting the region. They were masons who loved working with stones, marbles and brick and everything they built in Eritrea (as they did in their country) is a testimony to that. But when they saw people cut trees to build Hudmo or for charcoal, they introduced Furustale (forest rangers) to patrol wanton tree cutting activities by the locals.
2. Each Hudmo is supported by wood columns (16 in some but no less than 12 in others) and all involved cutting hundreds of years old choice trees, Awli’e being the most preferred tree. If there were 500 villages in Kebesa and each village had 100 Hudmos, half of a million choice trees perished from the kebesa landscape never to grow again. Why? Because the highland was not conducive to tree growing. Along with the trees also went the choice soil (Sibuh Meriet) through erosion.
3. He also mocked my article about water and water usage, especially because I wrote “washing after meal was optional.”
Every village was built by its founders (first inhabitants) on a hillside way above or far from a stream (Ruba), probably following the ancient wisdom of “enemies always come to where the water is.” By building their village away from the stream the villagers were able to protect themselves and their properties. Also by tradition or custom (Limdi), water fetching was the good women’s task. Not only did the good women make their own Utro which has a capacity to hold 2-3 gallons of water and weighs about 20 LBs when empty, but they carried the Utro full with water (guess the weight) in their arced back. They trot, they climb up and descend the hills to their village, to serve their family. Just imagine the back-breaking task of fetching water! This task alone would make water a very precious commodity.
Again, imagine how much of that water is used by the family for drinking and how much is needed for making Injera or kitcha, cooking, washing up. Also, by faith and tradition, people are expected not only to quench a stranger’s (traveler) thirst but they are also expected to provide them with water so that they can wash their faces and cool their feet. The one thing the good Kebesa women abhorred was saying, “I do not have water.” Anyone who asks water should get it.
There is an edict in Kebesa that made water-fetching a woman’s responsibility and task: “no man or boy shall fetch water.” If one did, one would be shamed and called Werad Mai and if he happened to be a boy it would be difficult to find a girl to marry. In other word, your Higi Indaba, which you proudly connoted with “the laws of our ancestors,” was very unfair to your mother, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and mine. Bluntly, the most difficult task in a village life was sanctioned to be the good woman’s lifetime burden by traditional fiat, without an iota of help from the men and boys who were supposed to be stronger and tougher. If one asked the men why they did not help the good women they would have replied, “Zitsenhe Indyu” or “Tebeyinu indiyu” or “Newri kem-U ilka aythtet”
Now that you are living in the land of abundance, how much water do you waste? How and where does the water come from? Of course, you only see it coming through the tap, just like the residents of Asmara (only ¼ of the residents), Mendefera (only few); Adi Khuala (very, very few). Are you confusing your current life with that of our people in Kebesa? Wake up!
You also sounded perturbed by ArB’aa. If I were you, I would have researched the issue and would have presented a holistic article rather than leaving the fruit (essence) of your article hanging in the air. But I decided to illuminate you on the matter as follows:
4. Deki ArBaa [Wedi ArBaa]: G. Ande had difficulty explaining the meaning of the term. He should have had the wisdom of avoiding what he could not explain because the term was supposed to be the cucial element of his article around which the other issues revolved. But he was not in a thinking mode and chose to get tangled and fixated with the numeric aspect of the term Forty. Here is the logical explanation: Since a ong time, Forty years was considered an era of one generation by the highlanders. Therfore, an immigrant had to wait one generation to be naturalized in a village to enjoy full rights and privileges including property ownership (meriet) and intermarriage with the villageers. For example, at this time a generation is 27.5 years in USA; but our highlanders must have been very advanced and fair in their understanding of the concept of safe and fair integration. And if one asks why one generation, the logical answer will be the scarcity of arable land.
5. Megedi ArBaa simply denotes a well traveled road (used by many without the requirement of a special permission) without restriction. Sometimes the good women say Aragits Koinuna instead of Megedi ArBaa to explain transgression on the part of the user and their lack of privacy.
6. Kebesa is desolate. No question about that. But I did not say the inhabitants were desolate. The land was chosen to be inhabited by our ancestors who came with a unique treasure that made them one of the most civilized people in the world in their era: A written Language. But look what is happening to it NOW: a slow and excruciating death in the hands of language terrorists lead by no other than the self-proclaimed despot, the head of state.
7. Fatherland/Motherland: G. Ande must have been overwhelmed with emotion when he wrote “the word motherland is rarely used”. Highlanders always confuse Adi with Hager. You hear them mixing up the lexicology when they say “Adi keydu alo” rather than “Nhager keydu alo.” With the same token G. Ande must have meant “AdeBo” which literally means village and not country when he wrote the above comment. Yes in Kebesa, a village or “Adi” is called fatherland, AdeBo but not Eritrea the country. In Kebesa Eritrea is most of the time depicted either in neutral or feminine term: “Eritra Tsibikti”; “Eritra adina habtam iya.”
8. And finally, “Anbeta Belita”: For those who denigrated Eritreans, I would have asked them, what is wrong with eating 100% protein? Is it better to perish because of lack of bread or eat Anbeta which fortunately is very nourishing? Importantly, G. Ande must not forget that also used to denigrate them by calling them Adgi, our most misunderstood beast of burden!.
The number 40 is significant in Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and other Middle Eastern traditions. It represents an estimate number of something.
· Rain fell for “Forty days and forty nights” during Noah‘s flood.
· Israel wandered in the wilderness for “Forty years”. This period of years represents the time it takes for a new generation to arise.
· Moses spent three consecutive periods of “forty days and forty nights” on Mount Sinai:
· Jesus was presented at the Temple forty-days after his birth.
· Before the temptation of Christ, Jesus fasted “Forty days and forty nights” in the wilderness.
· Forty days was the period from the resurrection of Jesus to the ascension of Jesus.
· In modern Christian practice, Lent consists of the 40 days preceding Easter. In much of Western Christianity, Sundays are excluded from the count; in Eastern Christianity Sundays are included.
· The dead are usually mourned for forty days in Muslim cultures.
· Muhammad was forty years old when he first received the revelation delivered by the archangel Gabriel.
· The Quran says that a person is only fully grown when they reach the age of 40.